Spotlight On: Dr Larissa Pschetz

In this monthly feature, we provide some insight into the PETRAS community who make up our diverse research Centre.

This month Dr Larissa Pschetz, Lecturer in Design Informatics at The University of Edinburgh is stepping into the spotlight.

What is your role and what does it involve?
I am a researcher and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. My research is in Human-Computer Interaction and related areas of Computing, Social Sciences and Humanities. I have a background in interaction design which influences the way I do research. This means I spend most of my research time designing and developing interactive artefacts that convey ideas of what living with the Internet of Things could be like. Some of these artefacts try to raise discussion, about biases of algorithmic transactions, for example, while others enable a particular experience, let’s say of seeing particular types of data that are often hidden from end-users. We get people to try these demonstrators, carry out interviews, collect insights, and communicate this knowledge to other researchers and companies that are working in related areas. 

What is your role and what does it involve?
My research is in Human-Computer Interaction and related areas of Computing, Social Sciences and Humanities. I have a background in interaction design which influences the way I do research. This means my team and I spend most of our time designing and developing interactive artefacts that convey ideas of what living with the Internet of Things could be like. Some of these artefacts try to raise discussion – about biases of algorithmic transactions, for example – while others enable a particular experience – let’s say of seeing particular types of data that are often hidden from end-users. We get people to try these demonstrators, carry out interviews, collect insights, and communicate this knowledge to other researchers and companies that are working in related areas. 

How long have you been with PETRAS and what was your previous role?
Edinburgh has been with PETRAS since the start of the project. I became more involved after I started leading one of the IoT in the Home demonstrators, in September 2018.

Tell us about a project you have been working on?
I’ve been leading one of the PETRAS demonstrators which we called Karma Kettles. Billy Dixon is the main designer working on the kettles, Esteban Serrano did most of the coding, and Luis Soares, a social scientist, has been testing the kettles with residents of an interesting apartment block here in Edinburgh. The idea of the kettles is to motivate discussion on the future of decentralised energy, and how much control users would like to have of algorithmic transactions that are carried out to balance energy in the grid, particularly with the introduction of smart batteries.

What is your favourite film?
Blade Runner. It’s an 80’s classic and I even know some of the dialogues by heart.

What about the IoT attracted you to working in this area?
I always loved computers and making things. Now I see my work as using this skills to ask bigger questions.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Santa Claus, he is the embodiment of ubiquity, as we joke here in the office.

What advice would you give your younger self?
I guess I’d say “don’t worry too much”. I think things come easier when we relax about them.

What would it surprise people to know about you?
Maybe that I enjoy about swimming in the lakes in Scotland, with a wet suit, of course.